SARAH BERNHARDT’S COOKIES

Don’t you love a cookie with a nice story behind it? Sarah Bernhardt was one of the greatest French actresses of the last century. During a trip to Denmark at the height of her career she had a cookie from an upscale bakery and fell totally in love. She was so passionate about that delicacy that in 1911, after her memoirs were published in Denmark, Chef Johannes Steen named this spectacular chocolate cookie after her. Read more about it here. You will find many versions around, but count on Helen Fletcher to bring you the authentic. The cookie joins an almond base, and a chocolate truffle enrobed in a chocolate shell. Many versions cover the whole thing in chocolate, but if you want to do the real thing, cover just the truffle. You should still see the cookie underneath and it will be much more elegant to eat. Worthy of a dame like Sarah Bernhardt.

SARAH BERNHARDT’S COOKIES
(from Pastries like a Pro)

for the cookie base:
100g almond flour
150g granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

for the chocolate truffle topping:
1/2 cup cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (28g)
2 tablespoons sugar (25g)
140g semisweet chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla

to coat the truffle:
114g semisweet chocolate (114 grams)
1 tablespoon shortening
Gold Leaf, optional

Make the cookie base. Draw a template with 1 in diameter circles on parchment paper to pipe the cookies, flip the paper so that you can pipe on the back.

Combine the almond flour and sugar in the bowl of a food processor, and run it for a few seconds to combine. Add the egg whites and vanilla, process until a paste forms. Place the mixture in a piping bag fitted with a 1/2 in round tip. Pipe rounds of cookie batter on the parchment paper, going just to the circle drawn. They will puff up during baking. Leave the piped cookie sitting at room temperature while you heat the oven to 300F. Bake the cookies for 20 minutes or until they just start to get some color on the edges. Let cool completely on the paper before removing to a cooling rack.

Make the chocolate truffles. Heat cream, butter and sugar until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should be very hot, but not boiling. Submerge the chocolate under the cream and let sit for 4 or 5 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth. Add vanilla.

pour it into a rimmed baking sheet, cover the top with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature until it sets up. If it is too soft to pipe and hold a shape, refrigerate briefly until it can be piped.

If making up to a week ahead, pour into a container, cover the surface with film and chill store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature to pipe. Follow the instructions above if it gets too soft.

Fit a pastry bag with a 5/8 inch tip. Fill the bag the truffle mixture. Pipe a kiss shaped mound in the center on top of each macaroon about 1” high and within about 1/4″ from the edge. If there is a pointed tip, press it gently with your finger to smooth the surface out.

Place in the freezer to harden. If not finishing within a day or so, place these in a covered container and keep them frozen for a month or so until time to finish.

Finish the cookies. Combine the chocolate and shortening in a short, wide mouth glass or other small container and microwave at 50% power for 1 minute.  Stir to mix. If the chocolate isn’t completely smooth, microwave for 10 seconds at a time.  Do not let it get too hot.

Remove the cookies from the freezer. Dip them upside down to cover the kisses, just short of their bottoms. Let the excess chocolate drip off. The chocolate finish should cover the kiss but not touch the cookie base. The fact they are frozen will stop the chocolate from running. If the kisses start to warm, pop them back into the freezer. Right after coating, add golden leaf decoration or sprinkles.

Cookies should be kept in the fridge and be brought to room temperature for serving. They can sit at room temperature for a few hours.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Helen’s post about these cookies is extremely detailed, so I recommend you visit her site if you’d like to bake a batch. She decorated them with gold leaf, I went the easier route and resorted to my trustworthy golden stars. You’ll need to work fast, because the chocolate coating sets almost immediately upon contact with the frozen truffle component.

These are festive and luscious, the type of cookie that will brighten up any holiday table. There is something about the contrast of the cookie base with the melt-in-your-mouth truffle that explains why Ms. Bernhardt went crazy for them.

ONE YEAR AGO: A Really Big Announcement

TWO YEARS AGO: Stir-Fried Chicken in Sesame-Orange Sauce

THREE YEARS AGO: Monday Blues

FOUR YEARS AGO: A New Way to Roast Veggies

FIVE YEARS AGO: Two Takes on Raspberries

SIX YEARS AGO: Spice Cake with Blackberry Puree

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Own Your Kitchen with Cappuccino Panna Cotta

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Chicken Parmigiana, the Thriller

NINE YEARS AGO: Wild Mushroom Risotto

TEN YEARS AGO: Tartine Bread:  Basic Country Loaf 

ELEVEN YEARS AGO:  Pugliese Bread

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND GRAPES WITH MAPLE POMEGRANATE GLAZE

You absolutely, positively, definitely, undoubtedly need this recipe in your life. I knew it would be tasty because Joanne raved about it, and she performs magic with vegetables. All. The. Time. I’ve only roasted grapes once for a focaccia (back in 2016!), but now I cannot stop thinking about other ways to incorporate them in savory dishes. They turn luscious.

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND GRAPES WITH MAPLE POMEGRANATE GLAZE
(adapted from Joanne’s Eats Well with Others)

12 oz red seedless grapes, removed from the stem
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 large butternut squash (about 2.5 lb), seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tbsp unsalted butter
⅓ cup pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp five spice powder
1/4 cup slivered almonds (or more)
fresh mint

Heat oven to 425F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

In a large bowl, toss the grapes with 1 tbsp olive oil. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Place the grapes on the baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in the same bowl toss the squash with 3 tbsp of the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the butter, pomegranate molasses, maple syrup, cinnamon, and five spice powder over medium-low heat. Heat for 3 minutes or until the butter is melted and the flavors can meld together. Toss the squash with a quarter of the sauce. Reserve the remaining sauce for later.

Add the squash to the pans with the roasted grapes, place the pan back in the oven and roast for another 20-25 minutes. When you have about 5 minutes left in the roasting time, sprinkle the almonds on top and mix them gently just to coat with the juices.

Remove the squash and grapes from the oven. Transfer to a large serving dish. Drizzle with the reserved sauce. Top with the mint leaves before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I sometimes find butternut squash already cut at the grocery store, but often they are cut in pieces that are a bit too small. For this recipe, I went the extra mile, risked the integrity of my fingers and cut the squash myself. I know, right? What won’t I do in the name of this blog? It is enough to bring tears to my own eyes.

If you’ve never used grapes in savory meals, please make that happen in your kitchen. I am sold. As to pomegranate molasses, I have used it coupled with rose harissa to roast squash, and it is fantastic, but this step of turning the molasses into a sauce that is drizzled at the end? It raises the ingredient to a whole new level. The sauce would be fantastic on a simple piece of grilled salmon. Yes, I am trying that soon.

Joanne, thank you for another winner of a recipe! Who needs cookbooks with a blog like yours to follow?

ONE YEAR AGO: A Really Big Announcement

TWO YEARS AGO: Stir-Fried Chicken in Sesame-Orange Sauce

THREE YEARS AGO: Monday Blues

FOUR YEARS AGO: A New Way to Roast Veggies

FIVE YEARS AGO: Two Takes on Raspberries

SIX YEARS AGO: Spice Cake with Blackberry Puree

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Own Your Kitchen with Cappuccino Panna Cotta

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Chicken Parmigiana, the Thriller

NINE YEARS AGO: Wild Mushroom Risotto

TEN YEARS AGO: Tartine Bread:  Basic Country Loaf 

ELEVEN YEARS AGO:  Pugliese Bread

LESSONS FROM TANYA, THE FINAL CHAPTER

Third post of a series of three on Sugar Cookie Decorating

In this post, I won’t share a recipe, as I will be using the exact same one posted yesterday. I made another set of silhouettes because the pups were beyond upset by my use of felines as cookie decoration.

Please do not laugh of my pink dotted border. That is the one technique Tanya demonstrated and I simply could not succeed. She does the beaded border pulling the piping tip and dragging a bit alternating the direction, it looks soooo adorable. I’ve tried in two cookies, and they ended in my belly because I was forced to eat the evidence. So I just went with little dots and even that has plenty of room for improvement.

I made dogs and cats of two sizes, to either stand alone in a cookie or side by side as best friends. At least in the cookie world, such relationship is possible.

The planning stage…

In this batch of cookies, I brought my air-brush into play. So I started from the flooding technique, and allowed that to fully dry for 24 hours. Once the surface is truly solid, you can lay a stencil on top and air-brush any color and/or pattern you fancy.

After that, simply glue the silhouette, if using, or any other piping with Royal icing you feel like adding.

If you are new to air-brushing, I highly recommend this one. It has a cup that is bigger than other brands, and can also be used for cocoa butter for spraying bonbon molds (I intend to try that in the near future).

You will also need air-brush dyes, and my favorite brand is Cookie Countess. The most useful colors are the pearl types, white, gold, silver or my favorite: Rose’ Gold (which I used in the cookies without silhouettes in the group picture above).

Below a little sampling of bakes from old posts and a few not yet blogged about, all decorated with air-brushing, some with stencils, some without. Speaking of stencils, etsy.com is a great source to get them.

It is really a very nice tool to play with, so if you are over the fence about getting one, consider this post a little encouragement…

I hope you enjoyed this little Trilogy of Sugar Cookies. Sugar Cookies and macarons are almost always part of my weekly bakes for Common Table meals, so I am constantly trying to find new ways to decorate them and new flavors to explore. Stay tuned for more in the near future…

LESSONS FROM TANYA: SUGAR COOKIE SILHOUETTES

Second post of a series of three on Sugar Cookie Decorating

For one of her bake-along tutorials, Tanya showed how to make little silhouette details using Royal icing. They can be made way in advance (pretty much last forever) and saved to add to your cookies previously flooded and fully dry. The possibilites are endless, as you can imagine. And the great thing for us who cannot draw to save their lives, is that you can find clipart to download and print for free, adjust them to the size you want and use them to pipe your little decor. She demonstrated with a gorgeous deer’s head, I went first with a cat. She also demonstrated how to make a winter scene with a full moon and trees, so I joined both techniques in a single cookie.

BROWN SUGAR AND SPICES SUGAR COOKIES
(adapted from Bake at 350)

360g all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cardamon
150g granulated sugar
226g butter, cut into chunks
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt

Heat oven to 350.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and spices, set aside.

Cream the sugars and butter. Add the egg and salt and mix until well-blended. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined. Roll on a floured surface to about 1/4″ and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and freeze for 10 minutes.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, depending on the size of your cutter. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Use Royal icing to decorate, recipe in previous post.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: There are countless sites that offer free downloadable templates for all sorts of drawings. You can then print them side by side and place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the printout. Using Royal icing with the consistency Tanya demonstrates in her tutorial and a very fine piping tip, carefully outline the drawing. Make more than you need, because they are obviously very fragile. They are best if allowed to dry overnight.

For the stars, in some cookies I used sprinkles… and in others I followed the technique demonstrated by Tanya, pulling small white dots with a needle.

That surface is allowed to dry overnight, and then the silhouette is glued, and the trees piped. In the cookie above, I used some silver air-brushing just for fun.

Here they are, all my babies! Before watching Tanya’s tutorials, I would never dream of making cookies with so many little details.

I will be back tomorrow with the final post about sugar cookies, using the same recipe (Brown Sugar and Spices). and a slightly different way to decorate them.

ONE YEAR AGO: Cherry-Chipotle Chicken Thighs

TWO YEARS AGO: White Chocolate Mini-Mousse with Sugared Cranberries

THREE YEARS AGO: You Say Ebelskiver, I say Falafel

FOUR YEARS AGO: Happy Thanksgiving!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Two Takes on Raspberries

SIX YEARS AGO: Spice Cake with Blackberry Puree & The Global Pastry Review

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Own Your Kitchen with Cappuccino Panna Cotta

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Chicken Parmigiana, the Thriller

NINE YEARS AGO: Wild Mushroom Risotto

TEN YEARS AGO: Tartine Bread:  Basic Country Loaf 

ELEVEN YEARS AGO:  Pugliese Bread

LESSONS FROM TANYA: APPLE CIDER SUGAR COOKIES

First post of a series of three on Sugar Cookie Decorating

One of the greatest benefits of being part of The Great American Baking Show was getting to know 11 baking addicts with no interest in treating their condition. A year later, we still exchange constant messages that often go beyond what is cooking in our ovens. Each of us has areas in baking we feel reasonably confident about, and areas we feel the need to improve. Tanya is amazing at gingerbread sculptures (insert a discreet tear here), and cookie decorating in general. Recently she made a series of video tutorials and by watching them and working with her favorite Royal icing recipe, I believe I improved my skills a bit. I still have issues with some techniques – those tricky beaded borders come to mind – but I will keep practicing. This is the time of the year that screams for sugar cookies and fun decorations, so visit Tanya’s site and join the spirit!

APPLE CIDER SUGAR COOKIES
(slightly modified from Global Bakes by Tanya)

226 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
160 grams granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons milk, any kind
375 grams all-purpose flour
42 grams (2 packets) Apple Cider Mix
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and milk until well blended.

Combine the flour, apple cider mix powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Gradually add to the butter mixture on low speed until combined. Divide the dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour or for up to 3 days. The dough freezes well also.

Heat the oven to 350F. Roll one piece of dough at a time between two pieces of parchment paper (I did 4mm thickness). Cut dough with floured cookie cutters. Place 1-inch apart on silpat or parchment-lined baking sheets. Freeze for 10 minutes.

Bake until edges begin to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool 2 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

ROYAL ICING
(from Global Bakes by Tanya)

900 grams (2 pounds) powdered sugar
156 grams pasteurized egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
Gel colors of your choice

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the powdered sugar and cream of tartar and whisk together to combine. Add the egg whites and corn syrup and stir gently with a rubber spatula until the powdered sugar is moistened.

Put the bowl on the stand mixer and, using the paddle attachment, whisk for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth and bright white in color.
At this point, you can use the icing to assemble a gingerbread house. To outline shapes for flooding, put about 1 cup of the royal icing in a small bowl and add about ½ teaspoon water. Add another ½ teaspoon if needed to allow smooth piping. Stir until smooth.

To flood cookies inside the dried outline, put about 1 cup of the royal icing in a small bowl and add about 1 teaspoon of water. Add another ½ teaspoon water to allow smooth spreading. Stir until smooth and combined.

Add gel colors as needed for your planned decorations.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was the first time I managed to work with different consistencies of Royal icing and get them to behave the way I hoped. Tanya shares quite a few tips to judge the consistency and adjust it, so I highly recommend you to watch her videos, particularly the ones that she made for a Bake Along session last month.

For this pumpkin, the yellow had a stiff consistency so that a rosette piped with a little open star tip would retain the ridges well. The green and brown were just a tad softer, and the orange more fluid (what is usually described as flooding consistency). The segments of the pumpkin are flooded independently so that they don’t join together. So for the example above, there are 4 sections, and just like Tanya demonstrates in her video, the idea is to flood area #1 and #3, wait about 10 minutes and flood regions #2 and #4. Ten minutes more and you will be ready to add the brown and a little later the final details in green and yellow.

You can also make rosettes and let them fully dry, adding them to the cookie with a little drop of royal icing as glue. These rosettes had been made months ago (remember this post?) and I just brought them to play.

In her Bake Along tutorial, Tanya taught a pretty cool alternative style for a pumpkin cookie, and I loved her idea. Start with a white pumpkin, and go with piping dots for the details. How cute is that?

Once again, segments are piped independently (#1 and 3 first, #2 and #4 last) and once that sets a bit, the brown stem and the colorful dots are added.

If you watch Tanya in action and see her finalized cookies, you’ll see I need a lot more practice, but… baby steps are still steps, right?

That’s all for now. Tomorrow I will share two other techniques I learned from Tanya, so stay tuned!

ONE YEAR AGO: Cherry-Chipotle Chicken Thighs

TWO YEARS AGO: White Chocolate Mini-Mousse with Sugared Cranberries

THREE YEARS AGO: You Say Ebelskiver, I say Falafel

FOUR YEARS AGO: Happy Thanksgiving!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Two Takes on Raspberries

SIX YEARS AGO: Spice Cake with Blackberry Puree & The Global Pastry Review

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Own Your Kitchen with Cappuccino Panna Cotta

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Chicken Parmigiana, the Thriller

NINE YEARS AGO: Wild Mushroom Risotto

TEN YEARS AGO: Tartine Bread:  Basic Country Loaf 

ELEVEN YEARS AGO:  Pugliese Bread